Shine Tries It: Ken Paves' SelfHelp Hair Program ("Hollywood's Secret to Hair Therapy!" Really?)


This is how refreshing SelfHelp Hair Shampoo is on TV. Not so much in real life. This is how refreshing SelfHelp Hair Shampoo is on TV. Not so much in real life. Welcome to "Shine Tries It," a new feature where we try things so you don't have to. Every Friday our editors will road-test unusual products and unbelievable promises to find out what lives up to the hype and what doesn't. Warning: don't try any of this at home until we do.


I have a problem with infomercials. It dates back to the late 90s when I was a waitress in Boston; I'd come home late from a dinner shift, crack open whatever booze was around, and turn on the TV. Because I was 24, poor, and cable-less, television at that hour involved two choices: fuzzy, unwatchable "Frasier" reruns (Niles, so dreamy) or an array of glossy, sitcom-length commercials hawking products I always seemed to need. Because I was drunk, I often bought them. Throughout this period, I three-easy-payments-'d my way into a manual ice cream maker/food processor (there is a reason these appliances have a motor, by the way: this product was akin to a butter churn), an Epilady which gave me shocks and a nasty rash, knives (actually good!), a mini George Foreman Grill (with an oven mitt!), and an item I believe, but would not swear, was known as the "Butt Blaster." This madness lasted for about a year. Then at some point, I got a day job, realized mosteverything I'd ever bought from TV was junk, and promised to curb the addiction. For good.

Ken Paves' SelfHelp Hair product collection was my first relapse.

To be fair, in his cozy, talk-show-esque SelfHelp Hair infomercial (which I watched in a fit on insomnia at 3am), Paves is an awfully compelling salesman. Unlike that dude who used to sell food dehydrators, he's a legitimate hair authority, as much as there can be such a thing. He's been a stylist for decades, he's reality-show-level famous, and according to the laws of magazines, he is one of only a handful of men who are experts on how to make hair "hot." The man has styled everyone from Eva Longoria to Victoria Beckham. And he's besties with Jessica Simpson! On top of this, Paves' SelfHelp Hair infomercial is co-hosted by Giuliana Rancic, a woman who is like the entertainment-news-world's Walter Cronkite.
SelfHelp Hair's endless array of products.SelfHelp Hair's endless array of products.
But the real reason SelfHelp Hai pulled me in and was ordered at an hour when the only people awake are either fist pumping in a club or making donuts is because it tapped into a vanity and paranoia I, up until that point, had not known I had.

Ken Paves' SelfHelp Hair infomercial told me 1. my hair was "old" and 2. Ken Paves'could make it look young again. It is thus an anti-aging product for hair. And I was its easy, late-30s lady mark.

The official Ken Paves SelfHelp Hair package costs $39.95 and includes the following: a 10 oz Shampoo (named "Integrity"), a 10 oz conditioner and an 8 oz hair mask, along with "free gifts" of a bamboo comb, a spa hair towel and a 30-Day supply of vitamins that are supposed to make you have good hair. For extra dough, you can also add on hair spray and glosser. All of these hair products are sulfate-free, scented with essential oils, and sold as having magical unicorn properties such as Co-elastic Q-10 Clusters™ and a proprietary Phospholipid Nano-dispersion™ to help "provide youthful bounce." They come in shapely bronzey-colored bottles that look salon-fancy, or at least the way salons were fancy in the '80s when my mom was getting perms.
Ken Paves and Jessica Simpson are besties, see? (Getty Images)Ken Paves and Jessica Simpson are besties, see? (Getty Images) The infomercial says you are supposed to use Ken Paves SelfHelp Hair products every day for six weeks to see the full young hair transformation, but I actually started seeing results in one day. These results were not good. The first day after I used SelfHelp's gluey, faintly air-freshener-scented shampoo and conditioner, my head felt weird. It tingled. I thought this meant the SelpHelp was helping. But the second day, that tingle turned into a burn on the very top of my head. In addition, my scalp itched. By day three, a giant clump of my hair felt out onto my free gift bamboo comb. By day five, my head was itching, burning and my hair looked unlike anything I'd ever encountered outside of reality shows about women in prison. It was both greasy and dry-as if I decided to dye it with laundry beach and then not wash it for a month. Examining it over dinner one night, my best friend could not decide if "stringy" or "frizzy" was the right adjective to describe it. On day seven, I tried the hair mask, which--though perfectly silky and luxurious going on-came off leaving a sticky residue and texture reminiscent of a ream of fly paper.

After a full week of listening to my obsessing over what was happening to my hair(maybe I'll go bald!), my husband gently suggested I stop using the KenPaves SelfHelp Hair collection. To this, I protested that I had not given it enough time and he did not understand how shampoo worked! Then, one night I came home and it was all gone. When I complained that I hadn't even gotten to try the vitamins (!), my husband looked at me, gave a shrug, and left the room. Like any good partner of a recovering addict, he knew when to cut me off.

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